August 15, 2007


Shuffle thoughts

Yay! Diane Ablonczy finally gets in.

Maxime Bernier to Foreign Affairs: I realize this is considered a promotion, but it seems like a waste to put a strong fiscal conservative in a non-economic role. I would rather he continued to beat down the regulationist hordes in Industry, and have Prentice go straight from Indian to Foreign.

On that note, does anyone have any thoughts on what Prentice will do with his new job? Is he a free marketeer like Bernier, or a meddling interventionist? The pundits tend to refer to him as a "Red Tory", but that seems to be an ignorant extension of his support for same-sex marriage. My pre-merger perception of him was that he was largely on the Blue Tory side. (Note to MSM and bloggers alike: Blue Tory vs. Red Tory is a matter of economic policies, not social ones.)

By all accounts, Prentice did a good job handling the difficult Indian Affairs file; here's hoping Chuck Strahl can do the same. (And furthermore, that Gerry Ritz continues to fight against the statist monstrosity that is the monopsonist Wheat Board.)

Oh, and I see that Dion is being his usual self:
He specifically expressed concern about the prime minister putting Bernier in the role of foreign affairs.

"He has appointed a foreign affairs minister, Minister Bernier, who is very right-wing, very close to the U.S. Republican approach about the economy, so I cannot say that I am satisfied with the changes I have seen today," Dion said.
For starters, Bush has run an administration heavily into subsidies and government intervention, the exact opposite of what Bernier is known for...

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February 07, 2006


Bad Thing(s)

Well, much digital ink has been spilled over the new Conservative cabinet, and in particular the appointments of David Emerson and Michael Fortier. Having taken the day to think about it, my position is still the same as my initial reaction.

I don't like it.

First, my thoughts on Fortier. Unlike some people, I don't have a problem with a Senator (i.e. non-House member) getting a prominent post, per se (Question Period is hardly an effective way of holding the government accountable, and anyway the Senate apparently has its own QP). However, I do have a problem with an unelected guy getting into Cabinet, and even moreso with him getting posted to the supposed-to-be-all-elected-from-now-on Senate in the meantime.

Apparently, Harper said during the campaign that he was leaving the door open to doing this in order to get proper regional representation.

The fact that it's just temporary until he can get a seat in the House makes it tolerable, I suppose, but still nothing that I'm thrilled about. A better plan would be to have him run in a Senate election and get his mandate that way. (Actually, at one point this is what one of the CTV commentators said would happen; anyone know if this is actually the plan?)

Okay, now for Emerson. Some people have claimed that this is a hypocritcal move for Stephen Harper in light of Belinda's defection. Not true; Harper made it <Paul Martin> perfectly clear </Paul Martin> before and during the election that he didn't support a ban on floor-crossing, and that he believes that MPs should have the right to change parties if they want and face the potential wrath of their constituents in the next general election.

As it happens, I disagree with his postion and support a law to ban floor-crossing to another party (but not to independent status). But the fact remains that Harper's actions yesterday were consistent with his previous stance on the issue.

Regarding the comparisons to Belinda, there are some notable differences, but ultimately, they're not enough. Emerson could have respectable reasons ("I was recruited by Paul Martin when everyone thought Martin was a Blue Grit, only to watch him turn sharply to the left; I was loyal to Martin, but not to Ignatief or Stronach or whoever the new leader will be; I didn't know the Liberals were lying about Dingwall's resignation"), but however plausible they might be, their believability would rank only slightly above Belinda's bogus claims ("I wanted to stop the separatists; I was uncomfortable with the policy direction of the CPC"). Even if they're true, few among the (understandably cynical) electorate will believe him, concluding instead that this was yet another case of blatant political opportunism.

Given the possible ethics problem and the definite optics problem, these appointments were a mistake for Harper. There were other perfectly qualified MPs for him to put in his Cabinet, and the "no representation in the big cities" problem (which I don't think was a particularly big deal to begin with) could solved by designating a nearby Cabinet MP to be responsible for the region, like he did with Peter MacKay and PEI.

In conclusion, the appointments of Emerson and Fortier to Cabinet were:
    a) not hypocritical, and
    b) not as bad as Belinda's defection, but
    c) still a Bad Thing(tm).

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